Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership


In the many blogs that I follow, much is being discussed about the use of virtual worlds for learning and game-based immersive learning. Now imagine if virtual world had not the avtars or characters, but real people interacting. Imagine what this would do to education and training. This isn’t a new story but I didn’t find this mentioned on the various blogs I follow.

Human Productivity Lab runs a story of Cisco’s "On-Stage" Telepresence experience at the launch of their Globalization Center East in Bangalore, India. During a presentation to the media in Bangalore, Cisco CEO John Chambers "beamed up" Marthin De Beer, Senior Vice President of Emerging Technology Group at Cisco, and Chuck Stucki the General Manager of the Telepresence Business Unit from San Jose. The photorealistic and life size virtual duo from San Jose then interacted with the Cisco CEO and presented to the audience in India. See the video of the presentation below.

Cisco in their demonstration used the telepresence display technology of UK based Musion and the Cisco Human Network that hooked together Bangalore and San Jose. This is done using a sheet of Musion's patented, transparent Eye-liner foil that is stretched across the stage. The ultra high-definition image captured in San Jose and the images of the virtual humans are then transported over the Human Network to be displayed in Bangalore.

Will this change the way training and learning happens across the world? It sure should solve the problem of shortage of trainers across the world allowing one trainer to train many people at the same time.

Digital Video Enterprises (DVE) is another telepresence provider using similar technology for their seamless tele-immersion room.

Now that's what you call Innovation!

I found this an absolutely fantastic example of Innovation. An upcoming band in Manchester, The Get Out Clause, unable to afford camera and crew to make a music video decided to use the 13 million CCTV cameras across the city. They set up equipment across the city and played in front of the cameras in 80 locations. Then they proceeded to write to the surveillance companies and asked for footage quoting the Freedom of Information Act. They managed to get their footage of about 20 locations, enough to make a full fledged music video. Now that’s what you call innovation!!!

Read full story here and watch the video here.

Unofficial Salary Survey of eLearning/Content Development Jobs - 2008

Update: See 2009 elearning and content development salary data here.

Last year I initiated the unofficial salary survey for elearning and content development jobs in India on my blog. I invited responses as comments on my blog post. The post got 10 unique responses. While the number of responses were not enough to consolidate and provide any trends, what was apparent was that the elearning salary range in India is quite varied.

One year down the line, it will be interesting to know what’s the situation now. What are the salaries for Instructional Designers in India? What are the salaries for Project Managers, Graphics designers, Flash Programmers, Testers? How has the economic conditions impacted the salary hikes this year? Have the salary structures changed? What really is the average salary of a content developer in India?

Take this year 2008 unofficial survey of elearning and content development salaries in India. The survey is anonymous. I will post the results on my blog from time to time. Update -- Poll Closed. View findings here.

Click here to view the 2007 unofficial salary survey for elearning and content development jobs in India.

Update: You can subscribe the results of this survey by RSS. Simply copy the link below into your RSS reader.


Update 2: The RSS above just shows the number of responses to the survey. Sorry to disappoint... no live results (I am disappointed too). Watch my blog for results from time to time.

Update 2: The findings are now available on my blog. Click here for viewing the findings of this poll.

Innovation, Quality and Failure

There is an interesting discussion ongoing in our internal (behind the firewall) blog. It is getting interesting and I thought I would get some wider perspectives on this subject.

My colleague writes:

Innovation is a messy process where different alternatives need to be tried before we really get something new and useful. For one success there will be many failures. "Innovation" without some "Failure" is not feasible. Therefore, the system has to nurture failure

On the other hand "Quality" is about delivering on time, every time. "Failure" is not an option. Therefore, the system has to minimize the risk of failure

The question is "How can the same system do both?"

I couldn’t help recall an earlier post about innovation and execution. What do you think is the relation between innovation, quality and failure? How can they coexist?

And the point of war is???

60 people were killed and 150 injured in a series of terrorist blasts in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India. I don't know what anyone is trying to prove with these attacks.

War does not decide who is RIGHT, it decides who is LEFT.

I light a candle for all those who lost their lives and were injured.

If you feel these attacks are pointless, please light a candle on your blog/site.

Photo from FreeFoto.com.

Cool Visual Search Engines

I recently came across three really cool visual search engines.

The first is Searchme. This is a search engine with Oomph. It has a cool Mac like interface of flipping through searched web pages. You can preview pages, even read a little bit as text. The search engine is a little slow though. And it doesn't return the large number of results as say a Google does. But it sure has a great interface.

The second is even better. Addictomatic searches the best live sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. It's the perfect tool to keep up with the hottest topics, perform ego searches and feed your addiction for what's up and what's now. It presents the result in a great dashboard interface with different search results showing up in small windows of their own. I love this one.

Finally, searchCrystal lets you search and compare multiple engines in one place. It is a search visualization tool that enables you to compare, remix and share results from the best web, image, video, blog, tagging, news engines, Flickr images or RSS feeds. It visualizes the overlap between search results and places the most relevant items close to the display’s center. You can even embed searchCrystal as a Widget on your site or blog to share personalized crystals. Take the searchCrystal Analytics Toolbook Guided Tour for more info.

New Blog Name

I am renaming this blog to "Life, The Universe and Everything about Learning and Content Development". Changed eLearning to Learning in the blog name.

CEO and Corporate Blogging

Continuing with my writing about blogging, another interesting question before me is whether senior management should blog, and if so where, as in inside the firewall or have public blogs? There has been much written about CEO blogging and corporate blogs. In this post I list various sites I found, some I really liked.

The big question that still remained for me is whether senior management should blog within the firewall or outside? Of course if they are connecting with the customers or partners, it is best to have a public blog. But if the main purpose is to connect with the employees, should this with only confined to password protected (or otherwise) within the firewall or should be a public blog? There are advantages of a public blog. I believe the corporate information walls are anyway so porous that it doesn’t really matter having a blog within the firewall. We regularly find corporate emails written by CEOs/senior executives being forwarded endlessly. A public blog will help connect senior management to potential employees, and also stay connected with former employees. Both these are important in this age of talent crunch. Of course, having a blog within the firewall makes it easier for management to talk about clients, failures and be more specific about projects and internal policies. So the jury is still out there about which is better.

Would love to hear more views on this subject.

My Top 10 CxO Blogs:

  1. Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International – well written and connects with customers and employees. I quite like this one.
  2. Tom Glocer, CEO of Thomson Reuters – As per Tom, in his blog he is going to “write about what interests me, which is often my work at Thomson Reuters, as well as wider issues like technology and media - two areas that I am fascinated by.” Seems like a genuine attempt to connect with employees and make the leader in Tom more human.
  3. Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies – reads like a blog aimed at conversations with employees. Vineet wants this blog “to yield an untiring momentum that will help us collaborate to transform our today and craft our own tomorrows.”
  4. Rajeev Karwal , Former President and Chief Executive, Reliance Retail, Reliance Industries Limited –truly a personal blog “to express gratitude to people, organizations, stories and situations which have taught me some important lessons in professional and personal life.”
  5. Scott Ragsdale, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, naseba – Very un-CEO type blog, written from the heart, couldn’t care less about what people might think. As per Scott, “the main purpose of this blog is to communicate with my 300+ employees, my future employees and leaders of naseba, my clients, future clients, and investors – at the same time helping me stay focused on my climb — to build naseba into a multi-hundred million euro company.”
  6. Jonathan Schwartz, CEO Sun Microsystems Inc. – writes mostly with customers as intended audience. Seems more like the Sun website and less like a blog.
  7. Kevin Lynch, Chief Technology Officer, Adobe – software development is Kevin’s passion that has led to great products from him and his team.
  8. John Dragoon, Chief Marketing Office for Novell – a nice mix of company specific and generic content. Has good content for marketing folks.
  9. Sanjeev Bikhchandani, CEO, Naukri.com – a personal blog, unfortunately not updated frequently
  10. David Neeleman, Founder and Chairman of JetBlue Airways – “Each week I fly on JetBlue flights and talk to customers so I can find out how we can improve our airline. This is my flight log”, one post a month, however unfortunately last updated in Oct 2007.

Corporate blogs (in no particular order):

  • Tata Interactive Systems – combination of blog and corporate website
  • Infosys – lots of technology channels
  • Wipro Campusarena – surprisingly reads like a blog. Aims to facilitate one-to-one interaction with Wipro’s Campus Hiring Team and Wiproites so that students get a taste of what working for Wipro is all about, the release added. As per their policy doc, “a platform for students to share and discuss information about life at Wipro Technologies and activities”.
  • Southwest Airlines – “state of the art use of social media by a big company: a blog, Flickr pics, video, polls, news and more”, could well be a company website, doesn’t quite have the feel of a blog.
  • Dell – a blog about Dell products, services and customers

Interesting links about CEO/Corporate blogs

Better Blogging

Recently, I have been asked about blogging a few times, both from friends and professionally. I was asked how to make your blog searchable, how do people find the blogs, can a blog be found by searching on Google or other search engines?

There are so many really useful sites out there that teach you various tips and tricks of blogging that I really wondered what value I had to add. I am no authority in blogging, so IM’very’HO I shared my blogging experiences with them. It would be great to hear more from experienced bloggers with more tips for new bloggers.

Your blog needs to be up for sometime before it starts showing up in Google search results. Of course people need to be searching for something that is available on your blog. There are syndication sites where you can post register your blog. This enables your blog to appear in categories that might interest others. BloggerBarter has a fairly comprehensive list of such syndication sites.

There are hundreds of new blogs coming up every day so it is a little hard to imagine people are actively looking for new blogs, though I am sure some people do. You may find some of the tips below useful to get a larger readership to your blog:

  • Publicize your blog to your friends – send email, put it on Facebook, put the link in your email signature etc. Direct your friends/colleagues/acquaintances to your blog and recent posts.
  • For people to return to your blog, it must have interesting things to read. Have a theme for your blog. If it a rant so be it, but then it needs to be interesting, spicy, saucy, or something that will pull the readers.
  • Good writing is critical for people to return to your blog. Poor writing is a great turn-off to the reading experience.
  • Read other people’s blogs. Read many different blogs. Then start commenting on them. When you comment, you leave a trail back to your blog and other people start visiting your blog.
  • Liberally refer to other people’s blog in your blog. Eventually other bloggers will start mentioning your blog in their blog, increasing your readership.
  • For readers to return to your blog, it needs to be updated frequently with new content. I have been reading blogs and many bloggers post practically every day. I started with posting once a month but now I post about 5-6 posts a month, which is low compared to many other blogger. It is quite hard work trying to keep pace.
  • Write about something that people are searching for. Surprisingly I wrote a post on iPhone that is the post that has most hits through search results. Set up Google Analytics on your blog. This will help you track keywords that are being used to reach your blog.
  • Become member of various online groups. Basically build your digital footprint.
  • Read about blogging as such. There are also many slides on Slideshare. These give you tips to become a blogger. Interestingly a recent post from Sue Waters has some interesting insights about Technorati and searching for blogs. Blog Bloke also seems like an interesting site with lots of resources about blogging.

Happy blogging... :-)

Not just the "Scary Times" Success Manual

Using Dave Ferguson’s three clicks out method I discovered I found ten strategies for transforming negativity and unpredictability into opportunities for growth, progress, and achievement that comes from Dan Sullivan's Strategic Coach.

As I read through the ten strategies I wondered why these were only for the scary times like the recession. These are strategies that we should use even in the good times. I found these useful and similar to some of the things I base my life on.

1. Forget about yourself, focus on others.
Focus on helping others transform their negatives into positives. The more you contribute in this fashion, the less you will need to worry about your own situation. You will become a source of confidence for everyone else.

2. Forget about your commodity, focus on your relationships.
In uncertain times, people become frightened about the viability of their “commodities” — the things they sell and the jobs they hold. A more strategic response here is to disregard your own commodity and focus on deepening the power and possibility of all your relationships — with family, friends, team members, suppliers, clients, customers, and prospects. Every time you strengthen a relationship, the viability of your commodity will increase.

3. Forget about the sale, focus on creating value.
Most people don’t like being sold at the best of times... what people want at all times is value creation — that is, solutions that help them eliminate their dangers, capture their opportunities, and reinforce their strengths. When you focus on providing these three solutions, the sales will naturally follow.

4. Forget about your losses, focus on your opportunities.
Things you had and may have taken for granted sometimes disappear. Some people never get over this. They keep trying to replay their old games. A better strategy is to start an entirely new game — using new ideas, new energies, new tools, and new resources. As the world changes, opportunities suddenly become available to achieve far more than you ever did in the past.

5. Forget about your difficulties, focus on your progress.
Because of some changes, things may not be as easy as they once were. New difficulties can either defeat you or reveal new strengths. Your body’s muscles always get stronger from working against resistance. The same is true for the “muscles” in your mind, your spirit, and your character. Treat this whole period of challenge as a time when you can make your greatest progress as a human being.

6. Forget about the “future,” focus on today.
The “future” is an abstraction. It doesn’t exist except as an idea. The only future that has any reality is the one that you continually create for yourself through each day’s contributions, achievements, and results. Focus on what you can do over the course of each 24 hours, and you’ll be the only expert on the future you’ll ever need.

7. Forget about who you were, focus on who you can be.
Many people define themselves by external circumstances. When these abruptly or unexpectedly change, they don’t know who they are, so they keep trying to be who they used to be. From now on, take your cues from the inside — from your dreams, ideals, values, and operating principles. These need never change, regardless of the circumstances. Take advantage of external confusion to become self-directed, self-managed, and self-motivated.

8. Forget about events, focus on your responses.
When things are going well, many people think they are actually in control of events. That’s why they feel so defeated and depressed when things turn bad. They think they’ve lost some fundamental ability. The most consistently successful people in the world know they can’t control events — but continually work toward greater control over their creative responses to events. Any period when things are uncertain is an excellent time to focus all of your attention and energies on being creatively responsive to all of the unpredictable events that lie ahead.

9. Forget about what’s missing, focus on what’s available.
When things change for the worse, many desirable resources are inevitably missing — including information, knowledge, tools, systems, personnel, and capabilities. These deficiencies can paralyze many people, who believe they can’t make decisions and take action. A strategic response is to take advantage of every resource that is immediately available in order to achieve as many small results and make as much daily progress as possible. Work with every resource and opportunity at hand, and your confidence will continually grow.

10. Forget about your complaints, focus on your gratitude.
When times get tough, everyone has to make a fundamental decision: to complain or to be grateful. In an environment where negative sentiment is rampant, the consequences of this decision are much greater. Complaining only attracts negative thoughts and people. Gratitude, on the other hand, creates the opportunity for the best thinking, actions, and results to emerge. Focus on everything that you are grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself each day to the best possible consequences.

Go to “The Scary Times” Success Manual via Michele Martin’ post Success in Scary Times --> Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation.



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.